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COCOA MULCH

 

It is an increasingly toxic world we live in. Being aware of risks can save your dog or your child's life. We warned readers about the potentially poisonous effect of cocoa mulch in April 2006 but reports continue to surface alleging that Cocoa Mulch is still killing dogs.

 

 

NEW COCOA MULCH DEADLY TO DOGS?

TheDogPlace Staff - June 2009

 

Reports of cocoa mulch poisoning so far fall into the "unconfirmed" category.  We present the following "alerts" FYI.  Second-hand, unauthenticated (and usually unsigned) reports are not credible but at the same time, we realize that concerned dog owners are not professional reporters, and the internet is, well, the internet.

 

We would not be doing our job if we failed to alert readers to the possibility that cocoa mulch can harm their dog.

 

Having called to question Snopes' findings based on the debunked ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center root report (see (1) Killer Grapes and Raisins), we ask that anyone with a veterinary-confirmed case of cocoa mulch toxicity click to Report To The Editor.   Our researchers have a little Snoop Dog that can dig out just about anything.

 

This email Alert received in May 2009 is typical but came complete with a photo:

 

COCOA MULCH POISON TO DOGS?"Cocoa  Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they  claim that "It is true that studies have shown  that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa  Mulch can suffer physical harm  to a variety of degrees (depending on each  individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't  eat it."  *Snopes  site gives the following information: (Link included in the email has been deleted by editor because IT was toxic, i.e. loaded with virus.) Cocoa  Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores contains a lethal ingredient called 'Theobromine'. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this  stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of  the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine."

 

We are providing this clean, direct link to (2) Snopes re cocoa mulch  for those who want a more detailed report. Snopes reports only one confirmed death from ingestion of cocoa mulch, that of a Lab in 2007.  A necropsy performed at Un. Of Minnesota revealed cocoa shells in the stomach and "evidence of theobromine in the shells."

 

Home Depot sells/sold cocoa mulch but the statement quoted by Snopes is not on the corporate website.  It doesn't matter and we did call Target, also mentioned in several reports. Hershey, the alleged manufacturer of the deadly stuff offers no statement and no "search" feature but may have at one time.

 

We did go to(3)ConsumerAffairs.com because they are a professional reporting agency with excellent public input.  Still, nothing definitive.  Regarding the Calypso Report (see below), "ConsumerAffairs.com tried to contact that clinic, but it did not respond to our inquiry.  Veterinarians, however, aren't the only ones warning pet owners about products that contain theobromine.  The Hershey's company--the largest maker of chocolate and sugar candies in North America--also cautions pet owners about that compound.  "Dogs metabolize theobromine very slowly," the company states on its Web site. "As a result, theobromine can have a serious effect on the animal's heart, kidneys and central nervous system. It carries the same risk as does a dog's consumption of other common household items such as coffee, tea, cola beverages and certain houseplants."  Meanwhile, experts say other types of mulch--including cedar chips and straw--are less toxic than cocoa mulch. But some may contain oil and resins that can cause gastrointestinal problems in their pets."

 

Another example received: "Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, they claim "It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it."  According to Snopes, that is not true."

 

And another: "Cocoa Mulch contains a lethal ingredient called "Theobromine" which is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is the ingredient that is used to make all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate."

 

And typical, this hints at necropsy but offers no references: "Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine."

 

And lastly, the original "Calypso" report:

 

"My client was the doting owner of two young lab/golden retriever mixes. Over the weekend, they purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. They set the bag in their yard. Their dog Calypso, decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat so she broke into it and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical of her when she would get into something she shouldn't have gotten in to. She was not acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly. Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs. Denise (Calypso's mom) wanted me to pass this information along so no one had to experience the same tragedy she went through.  In Loving Memory of Calypso."

 

(1) Killer Grapes and Raisins

(2) Snopes re cocoa mulch

(3) ConsumerAffairs.com

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